The first weekend after we got back from our first field based training we did something called an eco-camp with a volunteer already at site around Volcán Pacaya. So we actually started friday with a hike up the volcano to the crater itself. Awesome. We started hiking through the woods and we came out into the opening and saw the dome. It took us another 30 to hike up the final stage. A pain in the ass because the slopes were basically as far from stable as possible without falling. Anyways, we got towards the top and gas was coming out from cracks and fumeroles so sometimes it was hard to breath because of the sulfur and extremely humid air. We walked right up to the crater rim and looked down, inhaling even more fumes, but occasionally we saw some balls of lava shooting up past us. We couldn't se the actual pool of magma, but this was pretty cool. We did hear the volcano rumbling and feel it shaking a bit, which was a little freaky, but at the same time, I was in awe. It's also another place where I can say that I have hacked.
Anyways, the eco-camp. It was 16 trainees from Environmental Ed. and Eco-tourism (and trainees) and some 20+ kids aged 12-15. We had a clean water theme, but we did a lot of other tuff like trust falls, captura la bandera, eating competitions and 3legged soccer (my partner was awesome at soccer; he scored and had an assist). We also had a campfire, "scarey" stories, chilli and music. The plan was to go to bed at 9/9:30, but the boys didn't go to sleep all night, with was a little frustrating, but for almost all of them this was the first time any of them had done any of this, so we let it go, and in the morning they still had tons of energy when we did a scavenger hunt arond their town, which took a couple hours. It was really fun to play with the kids and all, but by the end we were all completely exhausted.
Field Based Training #2-
FBT2 was up in Alta Verapaz. We started in Cobán where basically we only went to a place where they make candles from wax extraced from these tiny seeds. This is good because it provides the families in the backwoods with income from harvesting the wax instead of cutting down the forest for lumber, so if you see these candles, buy them..... And from there went to Lanquín to give a taller (workshop) to soon-to-be teachers. My partner, Erin, and I had to give the same charla (lesson) 4 times, which was pretty tiring. It was good though. Our topic was the Ciclo de Aprendizaje Participativo (Participatory Learning Cycle). The next day we went to a school in town to teach about recycled art and play a game like capture the flag, but with a load of trash on both sides instead of one flag. Good in theory, bad in practice, probably because not only did we have to explain it in Spanish to the teachers, but the teachers had to explain it to the kids in one of the 22 Mayan languages here. So with the second group we just said whatever team could collect the most trash around the schol would win. This was the first school I've been to yet that didn't have floors. It was all hard dirt, and not half of the kids had shoes. Different, but cool. I would've taken some pics, but the other trainees all had their cameras out too.
Later we went to Samuc Champe (?) to swim in the natural pools there. It's all limestone/karst there so there's disappearing rivers, and some pretty cool waterfalls. Got to jmp off some short cliffs too which was fun. A nice hangout.
In Chisec we hung out with a youth group and showed them possible ways to generate income for the group. They're like an out-door adventure racing group/team. So we showed them recycled paper, wovent mats from old newspaper and composting with worms. Who knows yet if it will stick. Also in Chisec we went tubing down this pretty neat river with the group. The entire river was linded with the limestone cliffs, and a short rapid towards the end. We would have gone through caves, like eco-tourism, but they had all the tour guides wrapped up in some 3 hour taller they were presenting....whatever.
The trip was awesome. We got to meet more volunteers and got to see what kind of pojects they were doing and secondary projects as well. I'm definately looking forward to getting around to the volunteer thing.
This past week (13-17 of March) we were all anxious because this was the week to find out our sites. Some people could not stop talking about it, and it got a bit annoying, but whatever. Everyone seems to be pleased with where they're going, be it in the Verapazes, in the East or in the West. The way our trainers set it up to tell us was that they made a big map on the yard, about 20X20 ft. and they blindfolded all of us. Individually they walked us around the map and placed us in our location. We could move our hands around to see who was "near" us, but we couldn't talk and when they told us to, we finally took our blindfolds off. Everyone was like "wow, you're over there" or "Where am I?" It was pretty funny. Afterwards, we went into a room to finally talk about where we are and all that god stuff.
So where am I going? Wouldn't you like to know? Do I want to tell you? Well, I kind of had an idea the whole time I was here, but was never sure because of security issues and all that god stuff. Very well, my site is called Aldea El Faro, El Palmar, Quetzaltengango (Place of the Quetzal, the national bird). This is where the observatory for Valcán Satiaguito is located, some 8km from the crater. Ya, you could say I'm pretty pumped. I'm kinda out in the middle of nowhere though, living with some 250 other people. Yeah, 2,5,0. There are no more 0's attached. So, we'll see how that goes. Next week is our site visit, so I'll check it out some more then.
So, that's the new story with me. I hope all is going with you all, wherever you may be, CT, IA, CA, FL, MA, other countries, or wherever. Take care.
Tengan un buen día.